Personal Symbols, Personal Mythology

Activity Steps:

Create a piece of art that reflects your own personal symbolism.

1. Analyze:
What is a symbol? Brainstorm a list of symbols as a class. Break into small groups to write what you think each symbol means, and then rejoin the class to create a master list of the various meanings attributed to the symbols. Think about the following questions:
  1. Does everyone assume a particular symbol means the same thing?
  2. How are the various proposed meanings similar and different?
  3. What are some possible reasons for the differences?
  4. Can symbols simultaneously represent more than one idea?
  5. How do we know which meaning is most important?
2. Look:
Examine the artworks featured in this section, paying particular attention to the ways in which the artists have used symbols to explore their identities.
3. Brainstorm:
Make a list of your personality traits (thoughtful, smart, kind, competitive, etc.). Then think about everyday objects, tools, fashions, role models, or favorite possessions that symbolize these traits.
4. Create:
Create a portrait of yourself using one or more of the symbols. The portrait can be two-dimensional (a drawing, painting, or collage) or three-dimensional (a sculpture). Give your finished artwork an appropriate title.
5. Present:
Share your self-portrait with the class. As you look at your classmates' portraits, consider how their symbols represent something about their identities.
6. Reflect:
In your journal, reflect on how well your symbol functioned as part of your artwork to say something about you. How did you have to present, or perhaps alter, the symbol to convey what you wanted it to say?